The remit of BBC Alba is to offer a mix of originated television programmes, including output first shown on other BBC services as well as archive programmes. It aims to serve Gaelic speakers, those learning the language, those who might wish to learn and those interested in the language and culture. It aims to reflect and support Gaelic culture, identity and heritage.
Director's vision for the service in 2010/2011
BBC Alba is the product of a unique partnership between the BBC and MG ALBA, within which the combined strengths of both organisations have been harnessed to provide a platform for Gaelic programmes and content, on television and online.
BBC Alba offers a powerful broadcast medium for programmes that seek to reflect all aspects of traditional and contemporary Gaelic culture. It aims to offer new and impactful output, focused broadly on meeting the needs of two audience groups: Gaelic speakers and learners, and the wider UK audience. Its intent is to reach out and connect with these audience groups through a relevant and appealing mixed-genre schedule.
BBC Alba will feature content which is culturally distinctive and adds value alongside its sister services, Radio nan Gàidheal and bbcalba.co.uk, and with other BBC Scotland services. The use of subtitling and a distinctive visual style of production enable BBC Alba to provide a unique broadcast service for the wider population. It is both inclusive and outward-looking, actively seeking to recruit new audiences while retaining and supporting the growth of the core Gaelic audience.
In the coming year, BBC Alba will deliver originated programming in genres which have wide audience appeal, such as news, factual, music and sports. It will also provide entertainment and some drama for the Gaelic-speaking community.
An Là (daily news) will provide a focus for local, national and international news, while Eòrpa (European current affairs) will continue to offer in-depth analysis of European current affairs. The lives and experiences of the community will be reflected through historic and contemporary factual series, and new strands will explore subjects ranging from ancient religious customs to American Indian ancestry. Music will remain at the heart of the schedule, through broadcast events such as Celtic Connections, the Hebridean Celtic Music Festival and programming to mark BBC Scotland's Year Of Song.
Learning will also remain a core offering, with originated series such as Dè a-nis? and more formal learning resources offered to support the curriculum. The service will be the destination of choice for new language learners and it will partner with other agencies to ensure the strategic provision of learning resources to support the growth of the language.
In order to extend the appeal of the service to a wider audience, efforts will be made to secure carriage and transmission of BBC Alba on the digital terrestrial television (Freeview) platform, subject to the outcome of the BBC Trust's review.
Ken MacQuarrie, Director, BBC Scotland
Key challenges for BBC Alba in 2010/2011
BBC Alba performed well in its initial year of broadcast, establishing a steady reach and achieving strong approval ratings among viewers. However, the channel continues to face a number of challenges.
Challenge: We will continue to deliver a credible, relevant service for Gaelic speakers and learners, while providing content which offers alternative viewing to audiences and communities of interest across Scotland and the rest of the UK. We will focus on programmes which will attract a broader Scotland-wide audience to factual, music and sport content.
The documentary strand Trusadh will deliver strong, contemporary factual programming across 20 weeks of the year.
Music offers an entry point to BBC Alba for non-speakers and adds to the portfolio of events offered by the BBC to its audiences. BBC Alba will offer a regular schedule and a broad range of programming with improved flexibility around coverage of events across Scotland. A range of programmes and series is planned, delivering coverage of contemporary and traditional Scottish music events.
Regular programming will cover the three main sporting genres of football, shinty and rugby.
We will aim to provide programming which will better serve the Gaelic-speaking community, including general entertainment, factual and some drama.
We will also showcase bespoke documentaries, such as the landmark Year Of Song project and the National Mod.
The development and delivery of new originated content for children will be a commissioning priority along with strengthening existing brands for young people, such as Breab.
Challenge: We will deliver comprehensive coverage and analysis of the UK General Election campaign and results, in close collaboration with Radio nan Gàidheal.
This will be the first UK General Election to be covered by BBC Alba. The service will seek to add to the range of the BBC's election coverage, offering news, comment and analysis aimed specifically at its constituent audiences and with a particular focus on Highland and Island constituencies.
Challenge: Provide resource support to those learning the Gaelic language, working to develop bbcalba.co.uk into a world-class non-linear environment for Gaelic learning.
New learning resources will be launched on bbcalba.co.uk. These will be planned in close consultation with Gaelic agencies such as the Gaelic language board, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, to ensure that they complement existing resources from the BBC and other providers and enhance and extend the range offered to new and existing learners of the language.
Other programming highlights
The reflection of life in contemporary Scotland across its cities, towns and rural communities will feature prominently in the BBC Alba schedule in peak-time slots.
New observational series will offer insights into the work of Highland vets, life in the Partick district of Glasgow, work on a maternity ward, and the lifeline ferry services operating to and from the Scottish Islands.
News and current affairs
The core strands of An Là (daily news) and Eòrpa (European current affairs) will continue to offer coverage and analysis of local, national and international stories and issues. BBC Alba will also offer extensive coverage of the UK General Election campaign in 2010.
Music and events
A schedule of archive and original programming will be offered to support the landmark Year Of Song project.
Factual entertainment genres perform well for both Gaelic speakers and audiences across Scotland. BBC Alba will schedule a broad range of subjects to appeal to these broad audiences. Return series are planned for the popular motoring show Air an Rathad, Turas a' Bhradain (salmon fishing) and Grinn (personal makeover).
We will prioritise the development of online resources in support of our learning priorities agreed in consultation with key agencies such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig. Formal and informal learning opportunities will be offered regularly through the weekly schedule.
A new science-based resource for children aged 6-12 is planned which will take science out of the lab and into the real world.
New versioned animation series for pre-school children, Igam-Ogam and Tractor Tom, will be broadcast.
Conditions: BBC purposes and BBC Alba commitments
Unless otherwise stated, all commitments are minimum hours or percentages and include originations, repeats and acquisitions. All conditions are annual unless otherwise stated.
Promoting education and learning
Broadcast approximately five hours of originated programming (excluding news) each week, including programming first shown on other BBC services. Two programming hours per week will be aimed at those learning the Gaelic language.
Sustaining citizenship and civil society
Broadcast live news programmes each weekday evening, including at peaktime, and a longer news review at weekends.
Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence
Commission at least 50% by volume of its original programming (excluding news) from independent producers.